One man archaeotainment phenomenon Zahi Hawass has extended his media
empire this week by launching a satirical Egyptological website. The website,
features spoof articles ridiculing the Egyptian 'archaeologist' Zahi Hawass. It has already been
hailed by anonymous Egyptologists worldwide as 'savagely hilarious' and 'a spot-on parody of a
grotesquely funny character'. Masquerading as an official media outlet for Hawass, the site has been
produced with an impressive attention to detail, with touches of authenticity including a news archive
going back some years and a section dedicated to Hawass's fans worldwide.
The site's content targets Hawass's perceived habit of making self-aggrandising statements and
his lack of professional integrity. Hawass is also lampooned via a series of spectacularly crass and
insincere comments about the world figures he has met through his incessant globetrotting. Indeed,
it is only the grossly exaggerated chutzpah of some of these statements that reveals the site's status as
a cleverly constructed parody.
One post, dated April 2008, implies - rather tastelessly - that Hawass felt the need to replace the
late Princess Diana as his 'favourite princess' after her death, choosing a princess of Thailand to
fill the position. "Before I met Princess Maha [Chakri Sirindhorn]", the fictional version of Hawass
is quoted as saying, "I used to say that my favourite princess was Princess Diana."
A more recent story takes advantage of the recent real-life announcement that Hawass will be appointed
to the position of Vice Minister of Culture. In a show of solipsism and condescension that the real
Hawass would no doubt balk at, the fictional Hawass seems to claim that his personal triumph brought
so much joy to the people of Cairo that they collectively interrupted their day to launch a spontaneous
celebration. The fictional Hawass writes: "All the people of Cairo, rich and poor, the taxi drivers
and doormen and everyone was so happy."
The website has also been laced with a number of repeated in-jokes. One will certainly raise a
smile amongst those who know Hawass in his professional capacity as a television personality and
nominal author of ghost-written popular books: the spoof site refers to Hawass throughout as
an 'Egyptologist', as the 'discoverer' of an archaeological site actually discovered by a donkey and
as the author of various theories that pre-date his career by decades.
Another in-joke refers to Hawass's famous child-like obsession with Indiana Jones, as reflected by his
adoption of the film character's trademark hat.
In an article purporting to report on Barack Obama's
recent visit to Giza, the spoof Hawass calls the headwear "my famous 'Indiana Jones' hat" in one
sentence before going on to claim preposterously that "it has become more famous than Indiana Jones" in
the very next.
In producing his parody of Hawass, Hawass has a keen ear for statements which would have
a delicious irony, were they to be made by the real Hawass. In
one article dealing with a
'jealous critic', Hawass,
renowned for his reluctance to publish in peer-reviewed scholarly journals says: "I do not believe
that I need to prove to these people the quality and worth of my scholarship - my publications speak
for themselves." Later in the same piece, Hawass's numerous and very public campaigns to smear other
archaeologists and ruin their careers are sent up, as he is quoted as saying "I am also proud to
state that I never pay any attention to these internal jealous feuds."
The new site's instant popularity comes as a blow to the authors of the internet's second best
satirical Egyptological website, www.egyptastic.co.uk. Benny Hassan, Egyptastic's pseudonymous author,
told us: "We can't compete. This guy is hilarious. I think the best thing we can do now is to
publish an article with 25 mentions of the word 'Hawass' in a desperate effort to steal some of
his hits. Actually, maybe 26 will do it."
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